Since the news was handed down that New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez would have his 211 game suspension reduced to 162 games for the 2014 season, a lot of his former supporters have since stopped coming out publicly in favor for him.
One person however, has not, and he knows what it is like to go up against a commissioner in his own legal battles to preserve his season almost two years ago in New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
Vilma was once a major part of the NFL's "Bountygate" scandal surrounding former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and several players were suspended in the 2012 season; Vilma was handed down a one-year ban from the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, but he appealed the sentence and had it overturned in September of 2012.
Goodell re-suspended Vilma for the rest of the 2012 year in October after meeting with him, but then had the punishment vacated by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Vilma was reinstated and played in 11 games that season. As of this moment, Rodriguez is suspended for the whole year, but his goal is to play in 2014 and Vilma told the media during Super Bowl week that he supports Rodriguez's battle against Major League Baseball and Bud Selig.
“If he didn’t do it, I’m all for it,” Vilma told The Post at the Sheraton in Midtown, a hub of media activity around Super Bowl XLVIII. “Right now, he’s guilty unless he fights. It’s a tough thing to do, especially when the league controls everything. It’s tough when people assume you’re guilty. It’s tough to prove and fight your way to innocence — and even then, people still don’t want to believe it. So I know what he’s going through.”
In late November following Rodriguez storming out of the arbitration hearing that was lead by federal arbitrator Frederic Horowitz, Rodriguez appeared on Mike Francesa of WFAN's radio show and not only slammed Selig and baseball, but declared his innocense in the Biogenesis case in which Anthony Bosch accused him of purchasing and using performance enhancing drugs. Vilma said that if he doesn't fight, he will forever be tied to the steroid talk forever.
“I know it’s a difficult thing to do, but it doesn’t matter,” Vilma said. “That’s why if he didn’t do what he’s accused of, I would tell him keep fighting. Keep fighting till you can’t fight anymore. That’s the only way you can clear your name. Outside of that, when you look back 10 years from now, they’re gonna think ‘A-Rod and PEDs.’”
Currently, Rodriguez has a lawsuit against the league and has hopes of getting the entire 162 game ban overturned in federal court, or at least a good portion of the case being reduced if it prolongs into the season and Rodriguez can reclaim his spot on the Yankees for this season.
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- WFAN’s Mike Francesa, New York Daily News’ Michael O’Keefe Battle On-Air Over New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez
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